Have you Kondo’d your marketing funnel yet?


How to tidy up your sales and marketing funnel.



Senior Consultant Demand Gen, Protocol

February 2019

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, then you’ll have heard of the latest Netflix phenomenon, ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”. Marie was probably the first of a now burgeoning industry of ‘tidying experts’. In fact, the BBC recently reported on this trend, with women from across the globe giving up lucrative careers to become ‘decluttering gurus’ and ‘professional organisers’.

Marie Kondo’s own approach is based on the KonMari Method™ which is based on what she calls tidying by category rather than by location. She sets out six basic rules of tidying:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category, not by location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Now many will be thinking that this is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. And perhaps it is. Or perhaps it’s actually a really good strategy to apply to your marketing efforts - simplify your activities and give your campaigns a good old Spring clean!

Simplifying the funnel

And what better place to start than with the marketing and sales funnel. Yes, that good old lead visual that’s made us all much more aware of our contribution to revenue and had us doing continual somersaults trying to get all our data into one place.

Whilst the funnel has been great for focusing objectives and aligning marketing and sales teams towards the same set of goals, in recent years, it’s become somewhat of a victim of its own success. This has resulted in adding more and more layers of complexity into a model that actually didn’t really need further work, as long as those using it understand its core purpose – a model to help simplify the customer journey and visualise the sales process.

The SiriusDecisions version of the funnel, which they call the Demand Waterfall® and which has already seen so many iterations that it’s now called a ‘Demand Waterfall® Family’, gave us fancy new concepts such as AQL (Automation Qualified Leads) and TAL (Teleprospecting Accepted Leads).

It had some companies falling over backwards trying to work out how to distinguish an AQL from a TAL in their marketing automation and CRM systems. Headaches all round! More recently though, it’s become a lot clearer that this linear view of the process is really just a myth. The customer journey itself is messy and circular. HubSpot have even killed their own version of the funnel in favour of the flywheel with customers being placed, as they should, at the centre of all journey stages.

However, is the flywheel yet another overcomplicated way of seeing and describing the same thing? Is the funnel really all that bad when you strip it back to basics and use it as just a guide for conversion metrics and a rough idea on where to put your marketing budget? After all, isn’t marketing nowadays more about ‘failing fast’ and ‘testing and learning’, rather than spending weeks refining conversion rates and modelling out different sales outcomes?

This approach of simplification is very much behind the funnel model that the Protocol Global team have developed.

In fact, all those ‘Qualified Lead’ layers that are enough to turn even the most analytical of us off, are boiled down to one very simple bucket – a bunch of Prospects that are not Sales Ready but who can be nurtured through activities such as targeting and personalisation. And isn’t that much more representative of how the customer journey works? Different individuals and accounts all at different stages and ‘converting’ at different rates based on what messaging and campaigns they are coming into contact with.

Embracing simplicity

It’s an approach that marketing teams of all sizes are really embracing. A ‘model’ that provides high-level guidance but that isn’t so prescriptive that it wraps us up in knots of complex definitions and the like. And a model that recognises that the customer journey can be messy so we need to find a balance between what we can control and what we can’t.

Now, if we go back to Marie Kondo’s basic rules for tidying, I think this pretty much nails it, especially for the crucial last two steps of following the right order and ‘sparking joy’! Any model that’s easy to use whilst at the same time accounts for complexity that we may never fully understand gets a definite thumbs up in my book.



Emma is a senior B2B Marketing & Demand Generation executive with a track record of identifying and delivering innovative GTM & growth strategies in a number of global companies, both agency/consulting & client side. Emma is a focused but inventive thinker who can lead cross-functional teams in the application of analytics insights & customer segmentation in order to inform commercially-focused customer journeys that align with key business & sales drivers.

Email emma.westley@protocol.global

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